HealthTech Capital invests $200K in PharmaSecure

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 15, 2011        

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Don Ross HealthTech Capital

HealthTech Capital's Don Ross

PharmaSecure announced a $200,000 new round of funding led by HealtTech Capital, a Silicon Valley-based angel investing group. The second round included Gray Ghost Ventures and other undisclosed investors.

PharmaSecure uses SMS to verify a prescription drug’s authenticity, using a unique code and phone number printed on a pill bottle’s label. One of the startup’s competitors is Sproxil, which partnered with GlaxoSmithKline in May.

Earlier this year, HealthTech Managing Director and Founder Don Ross wrote a column for MobiHealthNews on how health tech is the next big opportunity for investors.

HealthTech also contributed to a round of funding in Niveus Medical, which is developing a technology to preserve muscle strength during long periods of sedation and bed rest.

“With healthcare costs continuing to spiral out of control, companies that decrease costs by leveraging new technologies are providing very attractive investment opportunities,” stated Anne DeGheest, managing director of HealthTech Capital, in a press release. “PharmaSecure and Niveus Medical are well positioned to be the next wave of successful HealthTech companies, and we are delighted to work closely with such great entrepreneurs.”

Read the press release below. Keep reading>>

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Teladoc closes $18.6 million led by Kleiner

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 15, 2011        

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iPad2FaceTimeTeladoc announced this week a round of funding totaling $18.6 million, led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB). Other investors in the funding round include Cardinal Partners, HLM Venture Partners, Trident Capital, and New Capital Partners.

Teladoc offers consumers remote consultations with licensed physicians for routine medical issues. The visits are on-demand and can be scheduled any time — day or night — and any day of the week. Currently the consultations can take place over the phone or via a video chat online. According to Teladoc, a consultation request is answered, on average, in 22 minutes, and averages $38 or less per session.

“The telehealth industry has reached an inflection point in its growth curve,” stated Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic in a press release. “This capital from KPCB and our existing investors distinguishes Teladoc as the clear leader in this emerging space. Our entire business model is focused on solving the greatest challenges we face in healthcare – access, cost and quality. We look forward to partnering with KPCB to leverage their expertise in building great companies.”

In May, MobiHealthNews reported on plans (revealed by Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic during a presentation at the Wireless Life-Sciences Alliance (WLSA) Convergence Summit) to offer Apple FaceTime consultations between doctors and patients. The feature has yet to be announced.

“KPCB seeks to identify industry leaders in markets that address significant unmet needs and are poised for explosive growth,” stated Dana Mead, partner at KPCB, in this week’s press release. “Teladoc and telemedicine clearly meet these criteria. We look forward to partnering with Teladoc to make a meaningful impact on the U.S. healthcare system.”

Read the investment press release after the jump. Keep reading>>

Apple helps MDs cut thru medical apps clutter

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 15, 2011        

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Apple Apps for Healthcare ProfessionalsGiven the steadily rising popularity of the iPhone and iPad among US physicians it’s surprising this didn’t happen sooner: Apple just made it a little bit easier for healthcare professionals to find apps for their iPhones and iPads. This month the Cupertino-based company added a new area of its AppStore purportedly just for the healthcare professional crowd.

On September 2, Apple quietly launched the new section: “This small and focused collection of apps helps customers discover and choose the best healthcare apps for iPhone & iPad,” Afshad Mistri, Apple’s Medical Market Manager for Worldwide Business Markets wrote in an email to developers obtained by MobiHealthNews.

The new section, which Mistri refers to as an “iTunes Room for Healthcare,” currently includes a total of 49 apps for iPhone users and 52 for iPad users, but the two lists are largely the same. Despite the section’s title of “Apps For Healthcare Professionals” about a dozen of the apps in both the iPhone and iPad sections are actually for consumer use.

Apple’s new healthcare section includes six categories of apps: reference apps, educational apps, EMR & patient monitoring apps, imaging apps, point of care apps, and personal care apps (which is for consumers.) The EMR & patient monitoring group of apps includes a number of high profile applications like AirStripOB, Cerner’s Physician Express, Epic’s Haiku, GE’s CA Mobile, DrChrono, Nimble, and more.

Point of care apps is a group Apple selected for physicians to use with patients at the bed side. DrawMD: Urology, iSpineCare, and Medical French were among the handful of apps in this section for healthcare professionals with iPads.

Apple may have included the group of “personal care” apps, which highlights Diabetes Buddy, GoMeals, WiScale, iHealth BPM and other consumer-facing apps, as a means to help care providers recommend popular health apps to their patients.

In his note to developers, Mistri promises that Apple will continuously update this new section of healthcare professional apps. Read on for the full email from Mistri:

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Bosch Healthcare chief is bullish on telehealth-enabled care management

By: Neil Versel | Sep 15, 2011        

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Jasper zu Putlitz BoschAn article in the September issue of policy journal Health Affairs looked at a CMS demonstration project involving care coordination with Robert Bosch Healthcare’s Health Buddy telehealth appliance. Researchers from Stanford University and economic consulting firm Analysis Group found that the Health Buddy system helped trim spending by 7.7 percent to 13.3 percent, or $312-$542 per person each quarter, on Medicare patients with various chronic diseases at two multispecialty clinics in the Pacific Northwest.

“These results suggest that carefully designed and implemented care management and telehealth programs can help reduce healthcare spending and that such programs merit continued attention by Medicare,” they write.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Jasper zu Putlitz, president of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Robert Bosch Healthcare, the global telehealth business of German industrial conglomerate Bosch, is thrilled. “This study is a real breakthrough,” he tells MobiHealthNews. “It’s one of the few CMS demonstration projects that actually showed impact.”

The researchers, led by Laurence C. Baker, chief of health services research at Stanford, also found evidence of better outcomes in the form of lower mortality rates, but suggested that more study is needed. Their analysis relied on claims data and did not account for the cost of the technology, but they are optimistic that they were on to something big.

So is zu Putlitz, who took the top job at Bosch Healthcare at the beginning of 2011. “The very idea that Health Buddy can save lives is very intriguing to me,” he says.

With this study now out there, the next step, according to zu Putlitz, is convincing healthcare payers, purchasers and providers that this kind of telehealth technology is worthy of the investment, particularly for Medicare enrollees.

Zu Putlitz says it’s somewhat unrealistic to expect commercial insurers to cover the up-front cost of monitoring technology such as Health Buddy since members switch plans so often. The same goes for employers, because companies downsize and people do change jobs. “That’s less of an issue for Medicare,” the Bosch Healthcare boss notes. He also says a similar opportunity exists in European markets, where healthcare is largely government-funded.

He is particularly excited about the new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, created by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The same health reform law gives CMS the power and some money to expand successful pilot programs without waiting for further congressional authorization. “We give them a little bit of what I call a luxury problem,” zu Putlitz says of the results of the study, which involved Medicare patients at Wenatchee Valley Medical Center in Wenatchee, Wash., and the Bend Memorial Clinic in Bend, Ore.

He adds that Bosch is prepared to ramp up telehealth programs in a hurry, should the demand arise. “Bosch has a lot of experience with large telehealth deployments,” zu Putlitz says. The company has done larger-scale rollouts with CMS in the Bronx, N.Y., and with the Department of Veterans Affairs. “We can do it. We are ready,” according to zu Putlitz.

Health Buddy, which Bosch acquired when it purchased entrepreneur Steve Brown’s Health Hero Network in 2007, is one of two telehealth systems Bosch currently markets. The other is ViTelCare T400, a home monitor for more acute and intensive cases, that Bosch picked up in a 2009 acquisition. The company is marketing the latter more to hospitals as a way to monitor recently discharged patients, particularly since Medicare next month will stop paying for certain preventable readmissions within 30 days of hospital discharge. Keep reading>>

How to get health devices on Apple store shelves

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 14, 2011        

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December 2010: Dr David Albert and the iPhoneECG case

December 2010: Dr David Albert and the iPhoneECG case

As part of its ongoing mHealth feature, MIT Technology Review has a new article on obtaining a major achievement for iOS health device manufacturers: Getting Apple to carry a device at its brick-and-mortar retail stores.

Apple’s retail locations already sell iPhone-compatible health and wellness devices, including the Withings Body Scale and the iHealth BP3 Blood Pressure Cuff. Connected medical devices for the iPhone first gained notice in early 2009 at an iPhone 3.0 launch event, when Apple demonstrated how a LifeScan blood glucose meter could connect to the iPhone. (LifeScan has been relatively quiet about mobile devices since but recently emerged as a partner to mobile health startup Cellnovo.)

Two years later, securing FDA clearance and also finding a spot inside Apple’s retail locations is far from easy. TR polled companies that have managed to do so about the process.

Here, roughly, are the steps a company needs to follow: First check-in with the FDA and spend the time and money to get medical device clearance if need be. Apple isn’t interested until this step is complete, according to TR. Next, device makers need to submit the app that corresponds with their peripheral device to Apple’s AppStore. Next, device makers need to apply to be a part of Apple’s “Made for iPhone” or MFI program and be ready for a good amount of feedback. A few tips for gaining approval: Keep a tight connection with the iPhone either through a case or cordless plug-in. Keep the peripheral device form factor small since shelf space is precious. Then, you submit your device and include as much info as you can muster along with some prototypes. The next step, according to TR, is to keep quiet about all this. Here are the last three steps according to TR:

Secret sauce: Now you’re ready for the secret stuff. Developers who get this far will obtain the “iPod Accessory protocol,” the secret technical specs needed to communicate with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Connect! The iPhone is famously locked down. Apple provides special hardware and other components needed to connect through Apple’s 30-pin dock connector. Get approved: All that’s left is final approval by Apple. Developers say that’s harder than getting a green light from the FDA. Unlike the government, Apple can reject you without telling you why.

One company that is interested in a spot on Apple’s store shelves is AliveCor, whose founder Dr. David Albert told TR that he has met with Apple executives about carrying his iPhoneECG device.

Read the Apple Store article over at Technology Review here and an article about AliveCor’s iPhoneECG here.

Usability, finances, lack of scientific evidence holds back home health tech

By: Neil Versel | Sep 14, 2011        

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As any reader of MobiHealthNews should know, the market for home care is gradually shifting from durable medical equipment to Internet-enabled, connected technologies. But acceleration of that change is hamstrung by finances, accessibility of the technology and lack of scientific evidence showing that wireless monitors and the like can save money and improve outcomes.

“We see substantial growth potential in technology-enabled home health care. An aging population and an increasing chronic-disease burden point to a large and growing market,” researchers from consulting firm McKinsey & Co. write in the fall edition of the McKinsey Quarterly. “But home care stakeholders must get the reimbursement models right and ensure that the technologies coming to market truly make a difference for patients and the bottom line alike.”

Home care today is a $68 billion industry, representing about 3 percent of U.S. healthcare spending, and it’s growing at an annual rate of 9 percent, according to McKinsey. The researchers, Basel Kayyali, Dr. Zeb Kimmel and Steve van Kuiken, note that home-monitoring technology is a tiny part of that, especially considering that two-thirds of cost of home health is related to labor.

“What’s holding the market back? We observe a daunting array of financial and operational barriers, including the misalignment of incentives between payers and providers, the need to demonstrate a strong clinical value proposition and the problem of designing attractive, easy-to-use products that facilitate adoption by patients,” the article says.

Kimmel, a former visiting fellow in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and his McKinsey colleagues say that any sustainable business model for home healthcare technology must meet eight “key success factors”: Keep reading>>